Butter Pecan Cake

It’s been a while since I had a non-chocolate recipe on BoB. Personally, I don’t think there’s any such thing as too much chocolate, but maybe variety isn’t such a bad thing, either.

Granted, this cake does have a bit of white chocolate in it, but I don’t count that. White chocolate is an entirely different entity in my book. In fact, I’m not normally a big fan of the stuff. It’s usually far too sweet for my liking. (Did I really just type that?!?) If any recipe can make me change my mind, it’s this one.

I found this recipe while flipping through Christmas With Southern Living 2005. I have no idea how I skipped over it back then. Having made and tasted this cake, I am so sad for my past self that it took me four years to get around to making it.

Nuts and white chocolate make this Butter Pecan Cake a delicious, irresistible dessert. - Bake or Break

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You can tell by the photos that this three-layer cake looks suspiciously like a two-layer cake. Honestly, that’s what happens when one layer doesn’t quite turn out the way you want. That turned out to be a good thing. Quinn, the official froster of the BoB kitchen, thinks that making the frosting cover an extra layer would have been a challenge.

I must say that this cake is fabulous. It is definitely near the top of my list of favorite cakes. The white chocolate is not overpowering. The cake is just right. And that frosting! I could be happy with a shot of that for dessert any time.

This cake is just as delicious as it is beautiful. It’s a great dessert for a special occasion or to make an everyday occasion special.

For more cake recipes, come browse Bake or Break’s Recipe Index.

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Butter Pecan Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 32 minutes

Butter Pecan Cake


    For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 & 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 11 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the cake:
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • toasted pecan halves for garnishing, if desired


To make the frosting:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add pecans and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted – about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in buttered pecans and vanilla. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

To make the cake:

Place white chocolate in a bowl and pour boiling water over it, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line with wax paper. Grease and flour wax paper.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in melted white chocolate and vanilla.

Combine buttermilk and baking soda. Add flour to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with flour. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended.

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold into batter. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Spread frosting between layers and on the top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Store in refrigerator.


Recipe adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2005.

This is indeed a 3-layer cake, despite the fact that I only used 2 layers. That just made for a higher frosting to cake ratio!


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  1. mara January 29, 2010 Reply

    wow, this looks great. I love butter pecan, and the white chocolate sounds like an interesting twist.

  2. Memoria January 29, 2010 Reply

    O-M-G!! You have the greatest desserts. I wish I could try every single one of them.

  3. Alta January 29, 2010 Reply

    Yum. How did you know that butter pecan is one of my favorite flavors?

  4. Heidi January 29, 2010 Reply

    I need taste-o-vision on my computer. And/or a napkin to wipe the drool! =)

  5. Dave -nibbleanibble January 29, 2010 Reply

    Love the texture.

  6. Joanne January 29, 2010 Reply

    This looks beautiful. I love just about everything in it. Totally bookmarked and hopefully going to be made within the next four years 😉

  7. Jessica January 29, 2010 Reply

    Wowza! That cake looks crazy good. I love Southern Living, and the cake definitely looks like a SL cake. It’s gorgeous, and it looks sinfully rich.

  8. Sathya January 30, 2010 Reply

    Mmm, that looks delcious! I want!

  9. jose manuel January 30, 2010 Reply

    Desde hace un mes no tenía receta nueva tuya. Esta tiene un pinta estupenda. Gracias

  10. The Food Hunter January 30, 2010 Reply

    This sounds delicious and the perfect break from chocolate. I can’t wait to try it.

  11. deeba January 31, 2010 Reply

    Oh yum delicious. I love a variant from chocolate in cakes, and this seems just the perfect thing. It’s gorgeous looking too!

  12. Gala January 31, 2010 Reply

    Sounds seriously delicious….

  13. Abby January 31, 2010 Reply

    It’s beautiful and perfectly wintery looking. Glad to see you back! I always love your recipes.

  14. The Duo Dishes January 31, 2010 Reply

    The cake looks super moist and soft. Share please!

  15. LauraW February 1, 2010 Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I made it this weekend for my in-laws. They loved it! Thanks for making me look like a baking superstar!

  16. Anna @ unsweetenedcocoa February 1, 2010 Reply

    I really hear you that one can never have too much chocolate. But if you’re not going to have chocolate, you might as well have butter pecan…this cake looks completely magnificent and flavourful. One to bookmark for sure.

  17. Stacy February 1, 2010 Reply

    This cake looks to DIE FOR! It is so nice to see a post from you again! I have to admit… I missed them (: You’re my fav food blog (shh don’t tell!)

  18. Kristan February 1, 2010 Reply

    Looks so yummy I can hardly stand it!! Can’t wait to try!!!

  19. Sean Thomas McGill February 2, 2010 Reply

    I’m look at as many food blogs as I can looking for a good dessert for chef test I have on Friday. There’s some great ideas in here!

  20. Hannah February 2, 2010 Reply

    This looks insanely delicious. I’m yet to venture into two-layer cakes, let alone three, but think this is the one to break me in!

  21. Daily Freebies February 4, 2010 Reply

    Looks amazing, nice woork!!!!

  22. Sarah February 8, 2010 Reply

    I tried this recipe on the weekend, but made a last minute decision to do cupcakes instead (Superbowl party so they were easier to eat). While the end result was delicious, I unfortunately thought I could get away without using cupcake wrappers – not a good idea. The cake itself is super delicate and fluffy which made it very difficult to remove from the cupcake pan. I’d definitely make it again, except either as a cake (in a well lined pan) or with cupcake wrappers.

    • stacey roberts January 28, 2016 Reply

      THANK YOU!

      For once someone has left a review after actually having made the recipe. Don’t know abt you, but personally I don’t care if it looks amazing, I want to know if it tastes good, was easy to make, etc

      And your review is very helpful bc my daughter loves butter pecan and I’ve been going to make it, but you just never know. Especially the part abt making cupcakes, that’s usually what I always do and yes, there are times I don’t have any liners.

      Again, thank you, thank you, thank you

  23. Whitney February 8, 2010 Reply

    I made this cake over the weekend for my grandmother’s birthday, and she absolutely LOVED it! More than one person at the party told me it was the best cake they had ever eaten! As an extreme chocoholic, I was a bit sad that she requested a cake that wasn’t chocolate, but I didn’t miss it one bit! The icing was wonderfully delicious, the cake was fluffy but moist. Just perfect! I will definitely be making this one again soon. Thanks so much for all the time and energy you put into making your blog so wonderful. It always brightens my day to see that you have a new post!

  24. ingrid February 14, 2010 Reply

    Oooo, this sounds right up my alley1 We’re not fans of chocolate but don’t mind some white. Thanks for passig this beauty along!

  25. Leah February 18, 2010 Reply

    Made this cake tonight and it was wonderful! Everyone loved it. My brother even took a big chunk home and he’s not a big sweet eater. Will definitely be making again!

  26. RobbieLee at Chickiedee February 22, 2010 Reply

    It looks great and sounds delicious… so it must be!

  27. Michelle March 3, 2010 Reply

    OMG! I made this cake last weekend and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! We are now addicts!

  28. GrapeSugar March 5, 2010 Reply

    Amazing, what I wouldn’t give for a little tub of that frosting with me at work right now…just a little taste every few minutes to get me through this Friday!

  29. calabaza_azul March 5, 2010 Reply

    wowwww!! this looks to die forrrr!! I wanna eat my laptop right now! but I don’t see where the recipe is.. please can you share it with ussss? 😀

  30. jennifer March 6, 2010 Reply

    calabaza_azul, the recipe link is above the top picture. Enjoy!

  31. heide m March 10, 2010 Reply

    Love this recipe.

  32. Kira March 16, 2010 Reply

    Wow, this looks amazing! I can’t believe I’ve never seen this recipe before.

    Thanks for posting.


  33. Julia March 22, 2010 Reply

    this looks amazing – just like everything else on your site

  34. nona June 9, 2010 Reply

    i see now, with toasted pecans – sorry for not reading more carefully

  35. nona June 11, 2010 Reply

    i made this cake – excellent, nice change from chocolate cakes. the white chocolate flavor really comes thru in the cake. thanks for posting the recipe

  36. zach August 14, 2010 Reply

    ive never heard of butter pecan cake it looks good

  37. Amber March 28, 2011 Reply

    I made this cake with 3 layers and it turned out fantastic. Very sweet and rich but good and so pretty.

  38. Louise April 5, 2011 Reply

    What a perfect dessert for celebrating National Pecan Month, which just happens to be in April!

    Thank you so much for sharing…you have a delicious looking blog:)

  39. Katherine September 21, 2011 Reply

    The BEST cake I have ever made! Thanks for the recipe.

  40. Rod Klemm July 23, 2012 Reply

    there are so many cake recipes that we can choose from. my favorite are always those recipes that have chocolate in it. .”;”`Warmest regards

  41. Sarah March 11, 2013 Reply

    Should this recipe have any salt in it? I just noticed that it doesn’t seem to have any.


  42. jennifer March 11, 2013 Reply

    Sarah, the recipe is correct – no salt.

  43. Tiffany March 24, 2013 Reply

    I made this cake today for my moms bday…the frosting was to die for but the cake came out firm more like pound cake with no fluff. Was it suppose to turn out that way? I followed the recipe exactly. Not sure what went wrong

  44. jennifer March 24, 2013 Reply

    Tiffany, it’s a fairly sturdy cake. If yours was just dense, it’s fine. If it was tough, then the batter may have been overmixed.

  45. Alexis April 9, 2013 Reply

    Made this for my husband’s birthday today. One word: perfect. Thank you for sharing this!

  46. Windea July 5, 2013 Reply

    Hello! I’m really excited about making this cake. I do have a question. Are you supposed to pour the entire half cup of water over the chocolate or only enough so that it melts? Thanks!

    • jennifer July 5, 2013 Reply

      Windea, you’ll need to use all of the water.

  47. Orla February 20, 2014 Reply

    If i were to make this in just one 9 inch pan could i then cut it in half etc? Would i need to adjust the baking time/temp for that if im trying to bake a larger volume? or should I just buy another cake tin XD

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry February 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Orla. You can half the recipe. You’ll just need to use a pan that will accommodate half of the volume. A 9-inch round won’t be big enough, as this cake actually makes 3 layers. The closest common size pan that would work for half the volume is a 9-inch square. It will be a bit on the tall side, so just make sure it isn’t an unusually shallow pan. It may take a few extra minutes to bake due to its height.

  48. cheryl February 21, 2014 Reply

    may I use this recipe for a vanilla layered cake?…is it fluffy light?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry February 23, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Cheryl. I remember this being a nice texture, but I don’t know that I’d describe it as especially light. I’m sure it would work fine. I like a little bit of heft to it so it holds up well with plenty of frosting.

  49. barb klavins March 8, 2014 Reply

    Okay people. I caved. Printed off the recipe, went out, bought 35$ worth of ingredients and got to work on this extravaganza tonight. First off: 30 minutes prep time?? My ass! Let’s call it 2 1/2 hours from turning on the oven to putting these delicious pan-fillings into the heat. Next, 20-22 minutes bake time is completely off. 35 minutes did it for these cakes. But now we are in the wait for the frosting to tighten up stage and i could eat that up with a spoon. Also I over shot it on vanilla. Keep to the recipe measurements. Here’s to yummy results tomorrow for brunch.

  50. Anna September 8, 2014 Reply

    If I wanted to make this recipe into cupcake would I bake same amount of time and how many would it make

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry September 9, 2014 Reply

      Anna, you should get somewhere around 24 cupcakes. I’d bake them about 15 minutes before checking if they’re done. Then, add time if needed.

  51. akilah September 17, 2014 Reply

    If I want to make this to fit in a 10″x4″ cake pan is it safe to double the recipe or would I need more batter?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry September 17, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Akilah. This is a 3-layer cake, which is a lot of batter. Do you mean 10″x4″ or did you mistype? If you meant 10″x14″, you won’t need to alter the recipe. The cake will be a bit taller, so just make sure your pan is not shallow. You may need to bake it a few more minutes to account for the added thickness.

      • akilah September 22, 2014 Reply

        I meant 10″round x 4″ high.

        • Author
          Jennifer McHenry September 24, 2014 Reply

          I certainly wouldn’t make the layers that tall. Doubling will give you way too much batter. You can still make the cake as directed and just have thinner layers. Or, just make two layers that are slightly thicker than you’d get from a 9-inch round.

  52. Yvette July 30, 2015 Reply

    I’ve made this cake from the original site…but I use chocolate ganache between the layers- solves the not quite enough pecan frosting and adds a bit of chocolate(okay more than a bit!) win-win!

  53. yvonne July 31, 2015 Reply

    I am looking forward to baking this cake, it sounds deelish!!!
    Will salted butter work just as well in the cake and frosting?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry July 31, 2015 Reply

      Hi, Yvonne. The only difference will be (obviously) the salt. I am a big believer in using unsalted butter for baking so you can control the saltiness. Usually if someone wants to use salted butter, I suggest reducing the salt in the recipe. But there is no salt in this recipe, so you wouldn’t be able to make that alteration. The salt will really just affect the taste, not the consistency. Ultimately, if you don’t mind a salty cake and frosting, then it will be fine.

  54. vetta December 26, 2015 Reply

    Can I sub the white chocolate for something else?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry December 26, 2015 Reply

      Hi, Vetta. If you don’t want to use white chocolate, I’d recommend just using your favorite cake recipe for a yellow or white cake. The frosting will work just fine with either of those. The cake recipe from this Pecan Cake could be used with or without the pecans.

  55. stacey roberts January 28, 2016 Reply

    I just replied to the first review I saw where someone had actually made the recipe to thank them for that instead of just saying how amazing it looks and they might try it. Then as I scrolled down and see where quite a few of you have made it and all the reviews are consistent. So I’m off to make it thanks to all you Trail Blazers

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